“On the other side of” is but one of many definitions for the prefix “trans”. Both “across” and “beyond” are accurate and applicable terms regarding Clyde Petersen’s Torrey Pines. The motif of a cross-country trip juxtaposed against the agony of young adulthood is an enduring narrative. The impulse to put distance between who we were and who want to become can be writ in the mile markers and the changing landscape just as easily as passing time. After watching this film, I was so compelled to read about the creator, and his journey from the Pacific Northwest to Florida, to zines and cassettes to film and visual art.
Buried within the gorgeous and time consumingly layered frames of the film, is the terrifying story of a childhood marred by paranoia and instability. The absence of dialogue permits dubious analysis and residual horror of how muted adolescence can be without a framework of communication, or a willing recipient. Music plays such an integral role (diegetically and otherwise) as a mode of expression that bends and expands into the void of a headset or an open window or a neighbor’s garage, confined and created for a period of time and then gone.
There are several instances in Torrey Pines where the referential nature of falling asleep in front of the television creates a palpable memory of child-like articulations as adult terror hovers in the periphery. The beautiful animation is mesmerizing, as though a graphic novel has begun to blur and slowly move as you rub your eyes, unsure of your reality. As you settle into the brightly colored environment, there is a slight unease as a film punctuated by sounds and gorgeous instrumentation persuades you to curate a narration (in)consistent with the images presented. Clyde Petersen draws upon his unconventional childhood to express the many ways one can travel across, beyond, and through adolescence with provocative and disquieting images assembling and dissembling in time with the elegant score and original songs by his many collaborators.
While there were many things that came to mind while viewing Torrey Pines; KaBlam! and Michel Gondry music videos, I have never come across a bildungsroman that was so evocative with so little dialogue. The interior rationale that is formed while watching this will be different for every viewer, which makes the story that much more fantastic, for this is the kind of immersive viewing that can leave you sputtering and blinking like a drive-by baptism.
Just as original as the film and extraordinary as Clyde’s life, those who witness this one time only event (Tuesday, November 22nd, 7.p.m. 5 bux) will get to experience a live score with the viewing , which will be performed live by the band Your Heart Breaks, featuring: Clyde Petersen, Zach Burba, and Jacob Jaffe. Additional music is performed by Kimya Dawson, Earth, Chris Walla, and Lori Goldston.-Erin Tuzuner